When the Bitcoin Bubble Bursts

Financial markets are frothier than a millennial’s 3-D latte. Investors are scrambling to throw money at Argentina, Vice Media and George Clooney’s tequila. Only the crypto-currency craze seems to give us comfort there are worse bubbles out there.

The latest warning against digital currencies comes from Aberdeen Asset Management’s top venture capitalist, Peter Denious. He blames a feeding frenzy of speculation for the explosion in prices and new coins.

“A lot of lessons will be learned and a lot of money will be lost, before a lot of money can be made,” he told Bloomberg News. “It’s a gold-rush mentality.”

Denious is right to say that the market is speculative and unsustainable. Despite recent price wobbles, Bitcoin has almost tripled year-to-date, to $2,677. Its closest rival, Ether, is now worth more than 40 times its end-2016 level of $8.

This isn’t because people are using crypto-currencies to buy homes or cars, or because regulators suddenly like them. It’s seen as a way to make money.

It’s hard, though, to separate the crypto craze from worries about regulated public markets and the real economy after a decade of ultra-cheap central-bank cash.

Talk of a bubble permeates every aspect of today’s financial markets. Bank of America research offered up several signs of “Wall Street excess” on Friday:

  • Argentina’s over-subscribed 100-year bond;
  • Facebook’s market capitalization now exceeds that of the entire MSCI India index;
  • Volatility in the U.S. Treasury market is near an all-time low.

Bitcoin wasn’t mentioned once. That makes it harder for the mud thrown at crypto-currencies to stick. Even Fidelity’s CEO and John McAfee are mining bitcoins in this market.

The mind-boggling returns of crypto-currencies also reflect a desire to escape public market bubbles rather than just emulate them.

If bonds are the old world’s safe haven, Bitcoin is the millennial generation’s apocalypse insurance. Crypto-currencies are marketed as a direct expression of opposition to central-bank and government policy, far more so than gold.

Just as low yields push wealthy investors to take bigger risks — like buying Argentinian debt — some people see Bitcoin as an escape from financial repression and instability.

That’s why Venezuela, where demand for digital coins is soaring amid triple-digit inflation, currency devaluation and political crisis, has one of the highest potentials for bitcoin adoption in the world, according to the London School of Economics. The other top country is — you guessed it — Argentina. Monetary experiments beget technological ones.

This doesn’t mean that there are purely rational explanations for the actual price of crypto-currencies today, tomorrow or yesterday. If the bubble bursts, investors will have to lower their expectations as to what Bitcoin and its ilk can actually achieve without rampant speculation and illicit activity.

But the more worrying scenario is that political unease about central bankers and wealth inequality will help to funnel more money into crypto-currencies.

Societe Generale’s Albert Edwards reckons citizens are close to turning on “unelected and virtually unaccountable central bankers” after years of economic crisis and stagnation.

Bitcoin’s computer scientists don’t deserve to be seen as a better alternative. But if the path out of the financial crisis takes a sudden turn for the worse, it may well be too late.

Both bubbles seem too closely connected for comfort.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Lionel Laurent in London at llaurent2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

Article source: https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2017-06-23/bitcoin-bubble-looks-too-much-like-your-own-for-comfort

Boots becomes latest company to terminate new gTLD but other ‘.brands’ go full steam ahead

Trevor Little

Pharmacy chain Boots has become the latest company to signal an intention to terminate a Registry Agreement (RA), this time for the ‘.boots’ TLD. While a negative development for the new gTLD programme, it should not be viewed as an indicator that ‘.brands’ are losing their lustre – on the contrary, the rollout of branded spaces shows no sign of slowing.

On Domain Incite, Kevin Murphy reported the news that the company informed ICANN in April that it is unilaterally terminating the RA for ‘.boots’, with ICANN opening it up for comment this week. Murphy notes that the string is the first single-dictionary-word gTLD (Boots having both a brand and non-brand meaning) to be taken off the market, the ‘.brand’ termination process meaning that it will not be relegated to another registration or made available to a third party for two years after the contract ends.

The move makes Boots the latest company to make a U-turn on its decision to run a ‘.brand’. Others that have previously decided against proceeding with ‘.brand’ applications including South Korean industrial conglomerate Doosan, publisher Guardian News Media and cosmetics giant L’Oreal. However, do not take this as a negative indicator on the ROI or attraction of ‘.brands’.

On the issue of domains, one metric often scrutinised when assessing the new gTLD programme is the number of domains registered in new gTLDs. While the overall figure – at time of writing – is approaching 27 million, ‘.brands’ are not a significant contributor. But one size does not fit all and this particular metric is not indicative of success or failure. At this year’s INTA Annual Meeting, for example, CSC Digital Brand Services’ Gretchen Olive noted that ‘.brands’ are neither in a rush to launch or subject to economic pressures to do so as registration sales are not central to their economic model: “Success is not measured by registrations or profit, but instead the unique strategic business goals of each individual brand.” This sentiment was backed up by Accenture’s Kristen Poggensee, who participated in the session with Gretchen. Part of a cross-company team – drawing on legal, marketing and IT – that is driving the digital strategy behind ‘.accenture’, she explained: “Right now we are not looking to just switch from ‘.com’ to ‘.accenture’. Instead we are taking a phased approach and testing the water. This is an evolving strategy.”

Instead, then, the analysis should focus less on numbers, and more on use and how the deployment of branded spaces is being approached. In the upcoming issue of World Trademark Review we present analysis of the ‘.brand’ environment from Nick Wood, managing director of Valideus. In his analysis, Wood notes that over 500 ‘.brands’ are now in operation – including ‘.audi’, ‘.barclays’ and ‘.sharp’ – with more than 100 boasting active second-level domain name registrations, and 17 of these actively using their ‘.brand’ as their main corporate or consumer website address. The latter includes Barclays, Bradesco, Canon, Citic and State Bank of India.

Another branded user is The National Association of Realtors (NAR), which as well as using ‘.realtor’ itself allows its members to utilise the space. NAR recently won the ‘Not-for-Profit Organisation Team of the Year’ accolade at this year’s WTR Industry Awards and when we talked to Chloe Hecht, associate counsel, after the ceremony she reflected: “NAR’s ‘.realtor’ TLD is an excellent example of the organisation evolving along with members’ methods of leveraging the Realtor brand (within the parameters of NAR’s trademark rules, of course). Most members’ marketing plans focus on a heavy online presence and NAR worked for over seven years to create an online space exclusively for its members. In fact, ‘.realtor’ is the only new TLD reserved exclusively for a membership.” NAR validates all domain registrations and renewals to ensure that domains are only licensed by active members, and the organisation clearly sees its gTLD offering as a key marketing benefit for members.

As Wood notes, increasing numbers of rights holders are now stepping up use of their ‘.brand’ domains – as evidenced above – but many are also treading cautiously. As well as not wishing to “dilute hard-won (and expensive) Google rankings”, they are also “watching and waiting, learning from the experiences of those who have gone before”. Testing is being carried out, with brands using their ‘.brand’ in areas where the impact of any tests are measurable. As a result, often activity will go under the radar, as tests are run using sub-segments of returning customers. Wood adds: “We know of two supplier-oriented portals created on ‘.brand’ spaces which are open only to those supplying secure data and services to the brands.” In short – activity is going on even if you can’t see it.

It could be that Boots is not the final company to decide that – more than five years after deciding to apply – a branded TLD is not now for them (after all, five years is a long time in the online world and as companies develop and evolve their strategies, priorities do change). However, as the rollout continues, early adopters are still testing use and the smart money is on ‘.brands’ being a driver of applications when the next round opens up – whenever that may be.  

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Article source: http://www.worldtrademarkreview.com/Blog/Detail.aspx?g=22d02ae9-250e-427a-9c7c-483d6d01c854

Where to look for the next bitcoin-like rally — if the sun shines right

The battering the markets have taken from oil isn’t doing much for its popularity — or that of any commodity. But there’s an out-of-this world reason why it’s worth taking another look.

Crude is down 4.5% for the week, failing miserably to climb out of a bear market. It’s brought down stocks, too, as supply panic (again) gripped investors.

Never fear — the oil doom and gloom will all be over soon, says veteran macro-economic analyst Yves Lamoureux. He argues the news flow is now so utterly bearish on oil, that it’s time for a complete reversal.

And that’s not all. The entire commodity sector is heading into a five-to-seven year bull market, with agricultural produce in particular ready to make a sharp move higher, the market observer says for our call of the day.

“We believe that we have arrived at the turning point again, where commodities will outshine an investment in stocks. The next bitcoin might as well be cocoa, oil or coffee,” says Lamoureux, who way back in February predicted the bitcoin rally.

His call on “soft” raw materials comes even after cocoa

CCU7, +1.37%

 slumped close to a 10-year low this week, and coffee

KCU7, +2.27%

 fell to levels not seen in more than a year.

So why the optimism? It comes down to something as unexpected as sunspots — dark spots on the surface of the sun that reappear on an 11-year cycle.

“The level is going down, and it creates less illumination, resulting in poor harvests,” Lamoureux explains in an email to MarketWatch. That means demand for agricultural produce is likely to outstrip supply, which usually pushes up prices.

Yves Lamoureux

Investing on the basis of sunspots might seem crazy, and the correlation has been questioned regularly (see here for an explainer). But Lamoureux is happy to cite British astronomer Wilhelm Herschel — the discoverer of Uranus — who observed back in 1801 hat when there were fewer sunspots, the price of wheat soared.

Key market gauges

Dow

ESU7, +0.05%

  and Nasdaq

ESU7, +0.05%

futures

YMU7, -0.12%

 are falling, but SP futures

ESU7, +0.05%

are perking up a bit. That’s as crude

CLU7, +0.26%

 is still struggling to push back above $43 a barrel, swinging between gains and losses.

Europe

SXXP, -0.34%

 , however, is looking more downbeat this morning, following a mixed session in Asia

ADOW, +0.21%

Metals

GCU7, +0.00%

 are on the rise, but the dollar

DXY, -0.15%

 is pulling back against all other major currencies.

Read the latest in Market Snapshot

The chart

Airlines anyone? A few months ago when the United scandal raged on social media, investors duly shied away from shares in the industry. But it’s time to dive back into the sector, says J.C. Parets of the All Star Charts blog, who says the industry will take off as part of an inevitable rally in industrials.

“If you want to look inside of industrials to see what could possibly take the broader sector higher, look no further than airlines and railroads,” he said in a blog post.

“To me, this looks like an upside resolution in the AMEX Airline Index $XAL that is about to make a run towards those former all-time highs in the 1990s,” he added, pointing to this chart of the NYSE Arca Airline Index

XAL, +0.04%

 .

All Star Charts

The economy

We’ll get a snapshot of how well (or poor) the economy has done in June at 9:45 a.m. Eastern Time, when the flash manufacturing and services PMIs come out. Home sales for May at 10 a.m. will be closely watched, too.

A trio of Fed speakers are also likely to keep investors on their toes, with St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester and Fed governor Jerome Powell all speaking after the market opens.

See: MarketWatch’s economic calendar

The quote

“Nobody is perfect, but I fundamentally believe he can evolve into the leader Uber needs today and that he’s critical to its success” — Michael York, a product manager at ride-sharing service Uber, who started an employee petition to get Travis Kalanick back as chief executive.

Kalanick resigned earlier this week after a shareholder revolt.

The stat

15% — That’s how much the pound

GBPUSD, +0.3233%

 has lost in the year since the shock Brexit vote, getting no break as the uncertainty dragged on.

Read: Brexit’s impact on markets and the U.K., one year after the vote — in charts


The buzz

Bed Bath Beyond

BBBY, +0.24%

is getting crushed after a disappointing earnings report.

Whirlpool Corp.

WHR, +0.70%

 is also getting a little squeezed. London police said it was a fridge of Whirlpool’s Hotpoint brand that started the deadly fire in Grenfell Tower last week. The police are also considering manslaughter charges following the blaze.

Tesla

TSLA, +1.65%

 is considering building a car factory in China to build electric vehicles for that market.

U.S. banks are “strong” and would be able to survive a severe recession, according to the Fed’s stress test of 34 of the nation’s biggest banks.

Biotech

IBB, +1.27%

and health care shares 

XLV, +1.04%

 are on track for their strongest weekly gain since November last year, after Republicans released a draft of their health-care overhaul bill.

It doesn’t pay to be president. Donald Trump’s net worth has dropped below the $3 billion mark, according to the most recent Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

And then there’s good news for EU citizens living in the U.K. — British Prime Minister Theresa May has offered permanent residency for the bloc’s citizens, post-Brexit.

Random reads

Tonight Danes burn witches on bonfires to mark midsummer

Israeli airline El Al can no longer ask female passengers to change seats

Sand — it’s actually rarer than you think

Qatar must meet 13 demands if it wants four other Arab states to lift sanctions

How to avoid sexual assault — taught by Bill Cosby

The U.S. has banned imports of Brazilian beef

You can take your dog to work every day at these pet friendly companies

Need to Know starts early and is updated until the opening bell, but sign up here to get it delivered once to your email box. Be sure to check the Need to Know item. The emailed version will be sent out at about 7:30 a.m. Eastern.

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Article source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/these-commodities-could-be-the-next-bitcoin-if-the-sun-shines-right-2017-06-23

Knysna donations – a huge lesson about Ubuntu for kids

Littles ones from Sunny Smile Assisted Learning Centre, a special needs care centre in Radiokop, were taught about the spirit of uBuntu when their principal Diane O’Carroll gave them the task of collecting goods for the school’s charity drive for the Knysna fire victims.

O’Carroll said, “We cater for children with a special need, [who] require individual attention in a home environment where they will feel safe and secure.

“The lesson behind the drive was to educate the children about charity, kindness and giving.”

The food items are packed in a box covered with drawings activities made by the children.

The centre will be commemorating 10 years since its establishment.

Community activist and school assistant, Helen Mc Donald, told Roodepoort Northsider that the initiative was their small way of providing aid to those affected in Knysna.

“What is one can [of food] going to cost a home?” she asked, appealing to residents to open up their cupboards and wardrobes to the thousands of victims who are now trying to pick up the pieces.

The school’s donation was wrapped up nicely with drawings by the children and dropped off at Caxton Joburg North West at 1187 Cornelius Street in Weltevreden Park.

ALSO READ: Cookware among many items donated by legal firm


Article source: http://roodepoortnorthsider.co.za/253149/knysna-donations-a-huge-lesson-about-ubuntu-for-kids/

Bitcoin: Why The ‘Flippening’ Failed

Source

Bitcoin (Pending:COIN) is the first cryptocurrency, but it isn’t necessarily the “best”. In fact, multiple digital assets have staked their entire value proposition on providing slight improvements on the core technology Bitcoin is based on. This suggests a great deal of Bitcoin’s value seems to come from name recognition and other first-mover advantages.

The fact that Bitcoin isn’t necessarily superior to the alternatives like Ethereum, Ripple, and even Litecoin hasn’t escaped the attention of holders of those competing assets. Many feel that as soon as Bitcoin is dethroned – through another cryptocurrency (Ethereum) surpassing it in market cap – it will lose its premium status and investors will flock to the new coin, dramatically increasing the value of the new coin through an event that has been humorously dubbed “The Flippening

However, the Flippening is starting to look like a “Floppening”. And this key bullish argument for Ethereum is not playing out as expected. While many Ethereum bulls may have rejoiced at Bitcoin’s scaling issues and political squabbling over a solution to them – most probably didn’t expect Ethereum to run into similar issues a few weeks later. Massive fundraising events called initial coin offerings have revealed serious weaknesses in the Ethereum network, causing many to question how much “better” it really is than Bitcoin.

Status, a project that raised hundreds of millions within a day, appears to be the straw that broke Ethereum’s back – at least temporarily. The event was a mess, and it seemed to have set off a chain reaction of dysfunction throughout the entire network, culminating in a flash crash that caused many U.S investors to accidentally sell (through limit orders) their positions at ridiculous prices only to see the price of Ethereum soar back up again. The dysfunction in the Ethereum markets has been so severe that investors, especially on Reddit and other message boards, are suggesting market manipulation may be involved.

One theory suggests the June 21st flash crash was caused by a large holder termed a “whale” purposely dumping an astronomical amount of Ethereum on a single exchange to fill all the buy orders, liquidate leveraged longs, and drive the price extremely low in order to buy up as much Ethereum as possible at extremely low prices before it soared back up. Some Redditors even suggest that this “whale” could have been the recipient of recent ICO funds. To investors used to the highly regulated U.S markets, such a story sounds widely implausible. But in the wild-west of cryptocurrency, an unregulated asset class at the frontiers of finance, it actually makes sense to many people. GDAX, the exchange where the problem took place, is investigating the situation and has provided a response to the community’s suspicions by stating, quote:

On 21 June 2017 at 12:30 pm PT, a multimillion dollar market sell was placed on the GDAX ETH-USD order book. This resulted in orders being filled from $317.81 to $224.48, translating into a book slippage of 29.4%. This slippage started a cascade of approximately 800 stop-loss orders and margin funding liquidations, causing ETH to temporarily trade as low as $0.10.

Our initial investigations show no indication of wrongdoing or account takeovers. We understand this event can be frustrating for our customers. Our matching engine operated as intended throughout this event and trading with advanced features like margin always carries inherent risk.

We are continuing to conduct a thorough investigation and will keep customers updated with any resulting actions. With that in mind, it is important to note that these trades are final in accordance with our GDAX Trading Rules (Section 3.1). Honoring properly executed orders is critical to maintaining the integrity of an exchange.

In response to the large price movement, we decided to temporarily halt trading of ETH-USD. Once we confirmed all systems were operating correctly, we restored trading when in accordance with our Downtime Process (Section 5).

So far, the exchange has found no evidence of wrongdoing. But this event caused many investors, who had made incredible profits through leveraged Ethereum trading, to instantly liquidate their margined positions and those with sell orders to sell at prices as low as $10 for an asset that is currently worth above $300. On the flip side, investors who were lucky enough to have open buy orders were able to earn unbelievable profits by accidentally buying a $300 asset for $10. This sort of extreme activity is sure to attract unwanted regulatory attention. But the dysfunction seems to be concentrated in Coinbase and GDAX – two affiliated companies – and should not be seen as an indictment against Ethereum or cryptocurrency as an asset class.

Conclusion

Ethereum is suffering from currency-specific challenges that put hopes for the flippening at bay. The Bitcoin/Ethereum currency pair has moved in favor of Bitcoin and the Ethereum/USD pair is still reeling from the shock of a massive flash crash on a major exchange. Nevertheless, the bullish case for Ethereum remains strong, and the cryptocurrency is still healthy in regions outside the U.S. One of the key benefits of cryptocurrency is decentralization. Thankfully, for longs, these negative events were quarantined to a few exchanges and couldn’t spill into the entire market.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Article source: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4083415-bitcoin-flippening-failed

How big is bitcoin, really? This chart puts it all in perspective

HowMuch.Net

Not all money is created equal.

Bitcoin burst into our financial consciousness like a fiery comet, setting the internet ablaze with visions of upending the existing global money system. Yet, by its nature as a cybercurrency, whose legitimacy only exists in the ether, its credibility leaves much room for debate.

HowMuch.net on Wednesday put things into perspective and demonstrated that for all the buzz and excitement bitcoin has generated, it still has a long way to go to be even remotely relevant.

The current value of all the bitcoin

BTCUSD, +0.19%

  in the world is worth about $41 billion, according to the cost-estimating website.

That is undoubtedly more money than most Americans will ever see in their lifetime. But when it comes to bragging rights, bitcoin really is the poor relation.

Also see: Teenage bitcoin millionaire can see the cryptocurrency’s value shooting as high as $1 million

As the HowMuch chart shows, the fattest bubble is for all the money in the world — including bank deposits — which comes out to $83.6 trillion.

See larger chart

The second biggest is for all the stocks trading across the globe, totaling $66.8 trillion, and more than double all the physical money in the world.

“A run towards or away from stocks would thoroughly deregulate the global economy, and nothing more dramatic than a minus sign in front of that amount would lead to the collapse of global civilization,” said Raul Amoros at HowMuch.net.

For all its glitter, the total value of gold is a distant fourth, at only about $8.2 trillion, while U.S. dollars in circulation add up to $1.5 trillion.

The next bubble is for Apple Inc.

AAPL, -0.16%

valued at about $730 billion, followed by Amazon.com Inc.

AMZN, -0.09%

at $402 billion.

Meanwhile, the value of all the cryptocurrencies in existence, such as Litecoin and Monero, checks in at $100 billion, slightly ahead of Bill Gates

MSFT, -0.01%

who claims a net worth of $86 billion as the richest man in the world.

Larry Page, co-founder of tech giant Google

GOOGL, -0.20%

 and the 12th-richest on Forbes’ billionaires list, alone is worth all the bitcoin floating around in cyberspace, with a net worth of $41 billion.

Money is about trust. Hence, the U.S. dollar

DXY, +0.02%

 as the monetary representation of the biggest economy in the world, is also the reserve currency of choice for many foreign governments.

As of yet, bitcoin does not command that level of respect given its wild swings recently. Nonetheless, the rise of cryptocurrencies in of itself suggests that people may be slowly losing faith in money and other traditional measures of wealth, according to Amoros.

Article source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-big-is-bitcoin-really-this-chart-puts-it-all-in-perspective-2017-06-21

.CLUB Presents Million.Club Domain Name to Person Who Made the New gTLD’s One Millionth Registration

In
a new post
on the .CLUB blog today
Chief Marketing Officer Jeff
Sass
revealed that Liz
Mejia
, an entrepreneur
based in Guatemala,
used GoDaddy to
register what would be the
TLD’s 1 millionth domain – MyWineShop.club.
Sass added that in
recognition of Ms. Meija’s
role in reaching the
landmark, the registry has
also given her the domain Million.Club

Regarding
the new website Ms. Mejia
plans to build on
MyWineShop.Club, she told
Sass, “the website is
an affiliate website and I
needed a great name for my
platform and all the
others, .com, .org ,
etc. could not help me. Only
.CLUB had the name that
would work best for my
site
. I chose this
name because we sell incredible
wine and accessories – and
we wanted that the website
be personal, hence the name
MyWineShop.club.” 

Article source: http://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2017/dailyposts/20170622.htm

The Bitcoin Bubble Will Turn Into Mania Before It Bursts

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

For the last nine months, the Bitcoin rally that took the digital currency from a few hundred dollars to close to $3000 had all the elements of a bubble that has yet to turn into a mania before it bursts.

Every asset bubble is different, and can be easily confused with healthy bull markets. But they all follow a certain pattern. They begin with ‘investor hype’ over a popular theme – an emerging industry or an exotic product that promises to change the world and make many people rich in the process.

Somewhere down the road Wall Street develops the vehicles that make broad investor participation in this theme easier, like a mutual fund or an ETF—turning investor hype into market contagion, and pushing the price of the underlying assets ever higher.

Source: Finance.yahoo.com 6/22/2017

Then comes easy money by accommodative central banks to provide ‘the air’ — financing for the bubble to grow bigger and bigger. Bold predictions by market gurus and talk in the mass and social media create buzz that help prices double or even quadruple in a matter of days, even hours—turning market contagion into mania. Investing in this theme reaches a cascade, as no investor wants to be left behind.

Finally, the bubble bursts, as early investors have already cashed out, and there are no more investors to join the party.

Apparently, the ongoing run up in Bitcoin and other digital currencies has most of the elements of a bubble. It’s an exotic asset that comes with big advantages—a better hedge against global uncertainties than conventional hedges like gold; a convenient medium of payment around the globe; and a limited supply–21 million. 

Meanwhile, there’s investor hype. More and more investors are becoming familiar with the digital currency, and can use ETFs to conveniently participate in the market.

Adding to the hype is an ultra-low interest rate environment (which has lowered the cost of holding all these four-digit trading Bitcoins).

But there’s one thing still missing to turn the bubble into mania: a broad participation beyond the “pioneers” and the “early adopters,” to “early majority–” along the Rogers curve.

That’s when the demand for Bitcoin reaches a cascade and turns into mania, as a critical mass of investors rush to buy “hot” Bitcoins for the promise they hold — rather than for the fundamentals they display.

Investors who have been around Wall Street long enough know all too well that when money becomes tight and investment promises aren’t fulfilled, bubbles and manias end; and millions made are lost much faster than they were made. And then some.

Article source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2017/06/22/the-bitcoin-bubble-will-turn-into-mania-before-it-bursts/

This play beats bitcoin with 100%-plus returns — and it’s less risky

Summertime and the living isn’t so easy, if you’re a stock investor looking over your shoulder at oil.

The hesitation we saw yesterday, as we adjust to the oil-in-a-bear-market world, looks set to continue today. So you just might just like to escape to another investing world where there is no Fed, OPEC or FANG stocks throwing curveballs.

Fatigue for traditional investors may be one reason why the excitement is booming in the wild west of the cybercurrencies right now. Over on Reddit, one forum dweller said they were ready to drop $20,000 into bitcoin — after doing some research and concluding the only way was up for the crypto cash. It beats “$20k sitting in a safe-deposit box,” the poster said.

“Only invest what you are willing to lose,” was one response.

And that leads us to our call of the day, which says there’s some big money being made on cybercurrencies — but the risk is on the same scale. And where there’s an opportunity, there are hedge funds.

Blogging for ValueWalk, Rupert Hargreaves took a deep dive into the Crypto-Currency Fund Index from Eurekahedge. The data firm uses the index to track the performance of five actively managed hedge funds with holdings in bitcoin, ethereum and other digital cash.

The findings? The Eurekahedge index not only beat traditional hedge funds, it even blew bitcoin itself out of the water.

Between June 2013 and April this year, the index shows eye-popping cumulative returns of 2,152.32%, versus 1,408.11% for the Bitcoin Price Index. Looked at annually, that’s a return of 125.35%, compared with 102.96%.


The funds on the index seem to offer a “less volatile way” to bet on cryptocurrencies over just buying bitcoin or ethereum, even though the level of volatility for the index itself “is off the chart,” Hargreaves notes in his blog post.

In its report on performance, Eurekahedge said that “over a period of 14 months between December 2013 and January 2015, the Eurekahedge Crypto-Currency Fund Index lost almost 73% of its value from its 2013 high. In contrast, the Bitcoin Price Index lost almost 81% of its value,” according to Hargreaves

Whether we’re on the edge of a South Sea Bubble or greatness for the cybercurrency faithful, bitcoin and its pals have been bringing the drama meanwhile.

Popular rival ethereum suffered a flash crash yesterday, which CoinDesk blamed on an influx of new users, pumped on media hype. ZeroHedge said it was caused by one seller trying to dump $30 million of ETH in one go.


Just a day in the life of a brave new world.

Check out: How big is bitcoin, really? This chart puts it all in perspective

Key market gauges

Back in the “real world,” weak oil is still a theme. Dow

YMU7, -0.05%

 , SP

ESU7, -0.04%

 and Nasdaq

ESU7, -0.04%

  futures are off a bit, and Europe

SXXP, -0.24%

 is looking at its third-straight loss on weak energy names.

Crude itself

CLU7, +0.80%

 is limping along on worries over U.S. supply data yesterday. Some metals are on the rise, and that has lifted parts of Asia

ADOW, +0.54%

MSCI’s inclusion of China stocks continued to boost the Shanghai Composite

SHCOMP, -0.28%

 .

Risk off? Gold

GCU7, +0.00%

 is up, and the yen

DXY, -0.03%

 too against the dollar.

Read the latest in Market Snapshot

The chart

It’s not just oil that’s hurting these days. Check out what’s happening with some soft commodities, via these charts from The Wall Street Journal’s Daily Shot.

Here’s sugar futures:


And cocoa:


The quote

Reuters

President Donald Trump speaks in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Wednesday.

“I love all people, rich or poor. But in those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense?” — That was President Donald Trump at a rally in Iowa Wednesday evening, in reference to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, also present.

Trump said he needs people “great, brilliant business minds,” so that “the world doesn’t take advantage” of the U.S. anymore, said POTUS. Watch that clip here:

The stat

More than 600 — That’s how many buildings in England are estimated to have been fitted with the cladding that is suspected to have led to the deadly Grenfell Tower fire:

The buzz

Oracle

ORCL, +1.07%

looks ready to rally after upbeat earnings, as it looks like its cloud transition has hit a turning point.

Staples

SPLS, +0.35%

 shot up in late trade after Reuters reported that Sycamore Partners is in advanced talks to buy the office supplies retailer.

Steelcase

SCS, -1.21%

 dived late Wednesday after a miss from the office-furnishing company’s earnings.

Nike

NKE, +2.00%

 plans to sell some its products directly to Amazon

AMZN, +0.97%

 , according to a source. Check out a preview of Nike’s earnings, due June 29.

Read: Amazon Wardrobe is another blow to department stores

Twenty-five companies, including GE

GE, -1.24%

 and Microsoft

MSFT, +0.51%

will attend the White House’s tech summer event later today. They’ll talk about emerging technologies and the effect on U.S. industry jobs, says CNBC.

Weekly jobless claims are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, followed by leading economic indicators at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Random reads

Residents remain trapped in Isis-occupied Philippines city

Meanwhile, another piece of cultural heritage has been lost in Syria

The “Richest Person in Every State”? Most of them are self-made

With the help of a giant squirrel, John Oliver is now getting sued by a coal magnate

Stephen Hawking is “convinced humans need to leave the earth”

Millionaire may call off treasure hunt after a deadly turn

Need to Know starts early and is updated until the opening bell, but sign up here to get it delivered once to your email box. Be sure to check the Need to Know item. The emailed version will be sent out at about 7:30 a.m. Eastern.

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Article source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hungry-for-bitcoin-heres-a-less-risky-but-hardly-risk-free-option-2017-06-22

How big is bitcoin, really? This chart puts it all in perspective …

HowMuch.Net

Not all money is created equal.

Bitcoin burst into our financial consciousness like a fiery comet, setting the internet ablaze with visions of upending the existing global money system. Yet, by its nature as a cybercurrency, whose legitimacy only exists in the ether, its credibility leaves much room for debate.

HowMuch.net on Wednesday put things into perspective and demonstrated that for all the buzz and excitement bitcoin has generated, it still has a long way to go to be even remotely relevant.

The current value of all the bitcoin in the world is worth about $41 billion, according to the cost-estimating website.

That is undoubtedly more money than most Americans will ever see in their lifetime. But when it comes to bragging rights, bitcoin really is the poor relation.

Also see: Teenage bitcoin millionaire can see the cryptocurrency’s value shooting as high as $1 million

As the HowMuch chart shows, the fattest bubble is for all the money in the world — including bank deposits — which comes out to $83.6 trillion.

See larger chart

The second biggest is for all the stocks trading across the globe, totaling $66.8 trillion, and more than double all the physical money in the world.

“A run towards or away from stocks would thoroughly deregulate the global economy, and nothing more dramatic than a minus sign in front of that amount would lead to the collapse of global civilization,” said Raul Amoros at HowMuch.net.

For all its glitter, the total value of gold is a distant fourth, at only about $8.2 trillion, while U.S. dollars in circulation add up to $1.5 trillion.

The next bubble is for Apple Inc.

AAPL, +0.59%

valued at about $730 billion, followed by Amazon.com Inc.

AMZN, +0.97%

at $402 billion.

Meanwhile, the value of all the cryptocurrencies in existence, such as Litecoin and Monero, checks in at $100 billion, slightly ahead of Bill Gates

MSFT, +0.51%

who claims a net worth of $86 billion as the richest man in the world.

Larry Page, co-founder of tech giant Google

GOOGL, +0.99%

 and the 12th-richest on Forbes’ billionaires list, alone is worth all the bitcoin floating around in cyberspace, with a net worth of $41 billion.

Money is about trust. Hence, the U.S. dollar

DXY, -0.08%

 as the monetary representation of the biggest economy in the world is also the reserve currency of choice for many foreign governments.

As of yet, bitcoin does not enjoy that level of respect given its wild swings recently. Nonetheless, the rise of cryptocurrencies in of itself suggests that people may be slowly losing faith in money and other traditional measures of wealth, according to Amoros.

Article source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-big-is-bitcoin-really-this-chart-puts-it-all-in-perspective-2017-06-21

Ubuntu Phone project failed because it was a mess: claim

Simon Raffeiner stopped working with the project in mid-2016, about 10 months before Canonical owner Mark Shuttleworth announced that development of the phone and the tablet were being stopped.

He said he had started working on Click apps in December 2014, began writing the 15-part “Hacking Ubuntu Touch” blog about system internals in January 2015, became an Ubuntu Phone Insider, got a Meizu MX4 from Canonical, and worked on bug reports and apps until about April 2016 when he sold off/converted all my remaining devices in mid-2016.

Raffeiner said that the decision to stop developing the Ubuntu Phone had been made around October 2016 but the public were only told about it in April 2017.

He put the failure down to seven factors:

  • It didn’t target a profitable niche;
  • The user experience was bad and priorities skewed;
  • The devices were hard to get and didn’t deliver;
  • Communication and marketing were rather chaotic and sometimes misleading;
  • There was too much focus on technical features the users and app developers didn’t care about;
  • The life of an app developer was too hard; and
  • It wasn’t as open and community-driven as intended.

Unlike the Ubuntu GNU/Linux operating system which was able to create a niche for itself due to the cost (Windows, Mac) and usability (Red Hat, SUSE) factors, Raffeiner said Ubuntu Phone, which was first released in 2015, was entering a saturated market where Android and iOS had already grabbed marketshare.

He said he had heard from someone that Ubuntu Phone needed to capture about 1% of the mobile market at the time to stay alive. But, he pointed out, given that Ubuntu Phone could neither be better than the competition – because must-have apps like WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram and Google were not available – nor cater to a niche with deep pockets, the chance of getting this number of users was very slim.

Secondly, Raffeiner said, there were too many bugs that made life intolerable when using the device. “The phones were slow and had to be rebooted on a regular basis. The Meizu MX4 overheated. The battery indicator tended to show bogus data. Mobile data was unreliable, (national) roaming often didn’t work at all. The location service was very unreliable. The phone didn’t always ring when called, or you couldn’t make an outgoing call because the UI hid the buttons. The alarm didn’t work reliably. Bluetooth only supported audio devices, and later input devices, but not even basic file transfer. Wi-Fi would not connect to WPA Enterprise networks until OTA-5. I think at one point the music player even started deleting files while indexing them,” he said.

Despite so many bugs being present, developers were not concentrating on fixing them, but rather on adding support for more devices. Additionally, it was difficult to obtain devices from suppliers.

Internally, Raffeiner said, there was poor communication. “I spent a huge amount of time every day trying to keep up with development, but most of the time even I didn’t know what would come next or what would end up in the next OTA,” he said.

“Mailing lists, IRC, Telegram channels, Launchpad, the official websites, private conversations between developers, sprints, Ubuntu Online Summit – there was just too much. And that doesn’t even include all the non-public conversations going on at Canonical when they had to keep a secret to ensure maximum news coverage when they unveiled it.”

Canonical put emphasis on technical features which neither the developers nor users cared about, Raffeiner said. He cited the aim to not simply have a GUI, but one that could work on all devices and adapt to all form factors. “It wouldn’t just isolate applications against each other the way the Linux kernel or Android did, it would have full-blown confinement which also protected your data and privacy. It would magically prevent apps from draining the battery. And so on. Whatever the others did on the technical side, Ubuntu would do it better and in a more elegant way.”

The expectation that other systems would adapt to the Ubuntu way of doing things was overblown, he said, citing the example of “some key developers over at Canonical (who) really thought Ubuntu was so important that all service providers would change their server code to use the Ubuntu Push Notification service, solving the problem. No-one except Telegram ever even gave this a thought”.

Raffeiner said development was very difficult. “Ubuntu for mobile devices was fundamentally incompatible with every runtime environment which had existed before. It couldn’t run Android, Windows, X11 or iOS apps. You couldn’t just cross-compile Android, Windows, X11 or iOS apps. The graphics system, system services, confinement, set of base libraries, it all was different.”

And, finally, the project was not half as open as the Ubuntu desktop operating system was. One example of this that Raffeiner cited was the fact that “Canonical and its commercial partners had a whole private Launchpad area with private bug reports. Quite often links on public bug reports would point to private reports, so you only had like half of the information”.

He said he began to have doubts about the project in December 2015 and left in mid-2016, saying he had done so because his work no longer made him happy and also because he had lost interest in software development.

After the project was officially shut down, the operating system is being developed as UBPorts.

Article source: https://www.itwire.com/open-source/78641-ubuntu-phone-project-failed-because-it-was-a-mess-claim.html

On Bitcoin, India’s Government And Tech Companies Find Common Ground

The popularity of bitcoin in India surged after the demonetization drive in November 2016. ( KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

The Bitcoin craze is catching on in India. While tech geeks and young investors eye the digital cryptocurrency as its value soars, the government, too, is contemplating a course of action surrounding its regulation.

In a move expected to boost financial inclusion, the Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance in India has formed an inter-disciplinary committee to examine the framework on virtual currencies. (It is expected to share its findings next month.) In addition, the government initiated a discussion on its forum MyGov to seek public opinion on virtual currencies. Clearly, despite some initial reservations, the Indian government is keen on understanding how Bitcoin works and is willing to deploy resources to build frameworks.

Bitcoin investors and companies welcome these efforts. They feel will it allow them to address concerns over security and risks pertaining to the use of Bitcoin, and eventually work towards improving its infrastructure.

Recognizing concerns

The majority of Indians who participated in the discussion on MyGov expressed interest in seeing Bitcoin become a larger part of the financial and trading systems in India. But, they were also apprehensive about its reliability as a currency. There have been reports of bitcoin trading amounting to money-laundering and that it propagates the financing of terrorist outfits.

Hesham Rehman, CEO and cofounder of Bitxoxo, understands the concerns but urges that “there is nothing corrupt about cryptocurrencies—they enable direct transactions with no third-party intervention.”

Bitcoin is also viewed with suspicion because it doesn’t fall under the purview of any government-mandated monetary policy, and fluctuates in value. Earlier this year, India’s central banking institution Reserve Bank of India issued a note of caution to users and traders of virtual currencies about the risks of using Bitcoin.

Former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan said that virtual currencies will be safer and better over time, and eventually become a form of transaction. (PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)

Still, Indian Bitcoin companies are observing an increase in customers. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetization move last November, numbers surged and it believed there are nearly 600,000 Bitcoin users in India, according to the founders of several bitcoin outfits. Companies also attribute growing interest to the increase in internet penetration, the success of Bitcoin overseas and the allure of the returns on unconventional investments.

Keeping Bitcoin secure

To keep their user base growing, India’s Bitcoin companies are keen on proving their platforms are trustworthy. They’re implementing multiple security checks, and all Bitcoin companies seek a valid ID proof from users that include government-verified address documents, a Permanent Account Number (PAN) or an Aadhaar number. Some companies even conduct voice verification and seek bank account details.

Benson Samuel, chief technology officer and founder of Coinsecure says, “These are expensive but necessary steps. By improving our infrastructure, current customers are assuaged and future customers are confident.” Aside from providing a strong security infrastructure, Samuel also believes that service providers should work towards simplifying the Bitcoin interface for users, which would encourage more people to adopt the technology.

Private Bitcoin companies have even formed their own association: the Digital Assets and Blockchain Foundation India (DABFI). The self-regulated entity is working towards educating the masses about cryptocurrencies and propagating best industry practices for businesses. Rashmit Gupta, whose company SearchTrade is a founding member of DABFI, says that it aims “to create more confidence among the public to use Bitcoin, and eventually increase the use of digital tokens more effectively.”

Growing investor confidence

Such efforts have not gone in vain. Until 2013, Bitcoin wasn’t very popular in India. Now, there’s a fast-growing customer base as well as rising investor confidence.

Unocoin raised $1.5 million USD, a record for an Indian digital currency outfit, and is paving the way for domestic and international investors to support Indian Bitcoin companies. Another bitcoin company Zebpay raised $1 million USD in 2016, largely from Claris Life Sciences and Jindal Worldwide.

Arpit Agarwal, principal at Mumbai-based Blume Ventures, urges venture capitalists to keep an open mind when it comes to Bitcoin companies. “Some financial investors are rightfully cautious about investing in this space due to lack of regulatory clarity. But, the government is working with private players to sketch regulatory frameworks that boost innovation as well as ensure safety of the platforms,” he says.

A promising future

Bitcoin’s future in India looks promising. Service providers are keen to expand the scope of usage, with the hope that the government and regulatory authorities provides them adequate frameworks.

Currently, Bitcoins are used to make purchases through mobile apps and buy gift vouchers. In the future, companies plan to step up the infrastructure that would support remittances to India and provide online financial solutions for the country’s unbanked population.

Article source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/sindhujabalaji/2017/06/21/bitcoin-india-regulation/

Nearly 1 000 trademark owners have registered dotAfrica domains

The ZACR has revealed today that registrations by trademark owners of the dotAfrica geographic Top Level Domain (gTLD) are among the highest in the world.

Since the launch of the Sunrise Phase on 4th April, 981 domains have been claimed by trademark owners placing it in the top ten of gTLD registrations around the world.

“The long journey to delegate the rights to administer .africa to the ZACR has clearly created a tremendous amount of pent-up demand for Africa’s new home on the web,” explained ZACR chief executive officer Lucky Masilela.

Registering a dotAfrica domain? Here’s everything you need to know

This feat was accomplished together with ZACR’s accredited registrars and systems such as the Trade Mark Clearing House and the ZACR’s Mark Validation System. Together these systems worked to insure that the right domains went to the right trademark owners.

Right now, the ZACR is running a Landrush phase where those that missed out on registrations during the Sunrise phase can apply to register their domains.

There is a catch however, if two entities attempt to register the same dotAfrica domain, the contested domain moves to an auction and the highest bidder wins.

This Landrush phase ends on 30th June after which dotAfrica domain registrations will be open to the public on 4th July.

 

[Image – CC 0 Public Domain Pixabay]

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Article source: http://www.htxt.co.za/2017/06/19/nearly-1-000-trademark-owners-have-registered-dotafrica-domains/

A Bitcoin Scaling Upgrade: How It Could Finally Happen (And How It Could Fail)

Bitcoin, it seems, has one of two futures.

Either the $40bn economic network that still defies scientists is on the verge of the biggest change in the network’s history, or the most advanced of its many long-theorized scaling compromises is headed toward its biggest political failure.

In recent weeks and months, the likely outcome has shifted quickly, often daily, as the varying stakeholders and competing proposals have jockeyed for position, media attention, and in some cases, actual headspace in the form of creative political attire.

What has been less visible, however, is that, in the midst of the chaos, bitcoin has been progressing, slowly and messily, to the point where some sort of action in the years-long effort to increase its transaction capacity seems likely to be taken.

This is partly because of a key proposal that emerged last month.

After convening in a meeting in May, a group of entrepreneurs and miners put forward Segwit2x, certainly not the first, but arguably the most advanced alternative to the roadmap long advocated by Bitcoin Core, the network’s open-source developer group.

Armed with the commitments from the majority of bitcoin’s mining pools, the group, comprising more than 50 startups and organized by investment conglomerate Digital Currency Group, now has enough influence to push through at least the first portion of the agreement, though it’s not without its dissenters.

Come August, a number of outcomes are plausible. Some are more likely than others. Bitcoin could be upgraded smoothly, or not. But, the big conclusion could play out in many different ways.

The SegWit split

For the moment, the most important takeaway may be that every group is pushing for a change known as Segregated Witness. Bitcoin Core’s original roadmap, the Segwit2x plan and users rallying around a change known as a ‘user-activated soft fork’ (UASF), all call for the upgrade.

Introduced already to no ill effect on the litecoin network, SegWit could provide a boost to bitcoin’s transaction capacity among other enhancements. But it has yet to activate on its own. (Some mining pool operators and mining hardware companies have long pushed back against the proposal, though the motivations here are varied.)

But as all the proposals now ultimately support SegWit on different terms, many in the community see this as a sign that SegWit is finally going to activate this summer.

The question is whether it could ultimately lead to a split into two bitcoins, due to how the upgrades are set up.

For one, some mining pools are showing signs that they want to take aggressive measures to hard fork bitcoin to a 2MB block-size parameter. If that happens, it’s possible that bitcoin could split into two competing assets later in the summer.

The tricky part is that the debate is constantly shifting.

But, to help understand the current state, here’s a timeline of what could happen:

Segwit2x soft fork: 21st July

Described formally in BIP 141, SegWit was first released last November. Today, as many as 80% of bitcoin nodes are running it.

And though it has grown contentious, it’s important to note SegWit was originally billed as a ‘compromise’, since it increases the block size (though not in a way changes the hard-coded ‘block size’).

Partly because of this, the idea did not please everyone. Namely, most mining pools did not upgrade their software in support of SegWit, either because they did not agree with the change or because they were indifferent.

Because of the contention around SegWit, others have been looking for a way to boost capacity that aligns with more stakeholders.

SegWit2x is one alternative proposal that combines SegWit with an increase to a 2MB block-size parameter. Most major bitcoin companies and mining pools representing 80% of the hashrate signed the proposal.

As noted earlier, the compromise might be working. As of Monday, the majority of the bitcoin mining hashrate is signaling support for Segwit2x.

This is a non-binding show of support. But the code is set to be officially released by 21st July, according to the technical working group timelines. Once that happens, mining pools can run and signal support for the change.

If 80% of mining pools run the code for 672 blocks, over a period of four to five days, then SegWit will lock in. Although it’s non-binding, it’s notable that the mining pools plan to lock-in SegWit the day before 1st August (more on that below).

Three months later, the second portion of the agreement, the 2MB block-size increase, is supposed to kick in. The problem is that if not all users upgrade, this could lead bitcoin to split into two assets. At least some users have said that they don’t plan to.

Timeline: Signaling for the change begins on 21st July. Three months after SegWit is activated, users will need to upgrade their software if they want to support the 2MB block-size parameter increase.

Who supports it? Most major companies and mining pools.

If mining pools lock in Segwit2x by 31st July, then that might be it. Otherwise the following events could unravel.

BIP 148 UASF: 1st August

BIP 148 UASF also aims to activate SegWit, but it takes a different approach.

It rekindles an older way of making consensus upgrades to bitcoin, one that doesn’t explicitly ask mining pools for support before pushing through a code change. (Some in the community are calling it bitcoin’s ‘Independence Day’ for that reason.)

Many users and some companies are already running code that could trigger this type of soft fork. At this point, nodes will start rejecting blocks that do not signal support for SegWit.

That’s why the idea is controversial. As these nodes reject the blocks, they’re effectively pushing them to a different network. It’s a controversial idea because, like the above hard fork, it could lead bitcoin to split into two competing cryptocurrencies, both called bitcoin.

But, some argue that it has more of a psychological affect. For example, some believe that mining pools rallied around Segwit2x on Monday in response to growing support for BIP 148. The idea is that, if they don’t want bitcoin to split, SegWit needs to be activated somehow prior to that date.

Timeline: On 1st August, nodes that are running BIP 148 will start rejecting blocks from miners that do not support SegWit.

Who supports it? Some users, some businesses, some miners and some developers, but like the other proposals, support is split.

UAHF: 12 hours after BIP148

If BIP 148 gets off the ground on 1st August, mining firm Bitmain plans to roll out a “user-activated hard fork” (UAHF) in response.

This could potentially protect users’ money in the event of a split, according to the company, by making the split more permanent. In theory, a bitcoin hard fork could provide protection from a ‘wipe out’, where transactions on one version of the blockchain might accidentally be erased.

Still, mining pools might lose money if they end up mining a competing fork. So, some are calling the the Bitmain UAHF a bluff.

Another mining firm, ViaBTC, unveiled a related plan on Monday to guard against the prospect that some in the community may not uphold the 2MB increase portion of the SegWit2x agreement.

The far-fetched goal is to incentivize the creation of a bitcoin with bigger blocks by raising the funds to do so via an initial coin offering (ICO).

Timeline: If BIP 148 triggers, Bitmain will start mining a private chain and open it up to more bitcoin users if there’s enough support.

Who supports it? Two mining firms, Bitmain and ViaBTC.

What lies ahead

Still, it’s possible that all these scaling efforts will become obsolete once mining pools lock in Segwit2x. If not, though, there is the more complex timeline to keep in mind.

Meanwhile, there are other complexities to the argument, not the least of which is that it can seem like bitcoin users are voiceless in the middle of all this in-fighting.

This was the highlight of a debate between Blockstream CEO Adam Back and Peter Smith, CEO of bitcoin wallet startup Blockchain, on a mailing list last week. There, Back argued that users don’t want a small group of entities dictating the rules of what’s supposed to be a decentralized currency, while Smith asserted that its wallet users want cheaper fees.

Given the complexities of the outcomes above, bitcoin’s biggest question now may not be whether it will upgrade, but whose vision for the network will win out when it does (or doesn’t).

Disclosure: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group (DCG), which helped organize SegWit2x and has an ownership stake in Blockstream.

Mysterious chest image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Interested in offering your expertise or insights to our reporting? Contact us at [email protected].

Article source: http://www.coindesk.com/bitcoin-scaling-upgrade-finally-happen-fail/

Embrace ubuntu & return to work, striking mortuary employees requested

JOHANNESBURG – Assistant forensic pathologists involved in the Gauteng mortuary strike are being asked to embrace the spirit of Ubuntu and return to work.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) says given that the majority of their demands have been agreed to by the Health Department, workers now need to consider what bereaved families are going through.

More than 200 families are still waiting for the bodies of their loved ones to be released.

Forensic assistants at some mortuaries in Gauteng refused to conduct postmortems, saying they weren’t being paid for the job.

With talks between unions and the department nearing an end, the IFP’s Bonginkosi Dlamini is pleading with workers to return to their posts.

“We must provide this service because it is essential, this is one very crucial service and they cannot punish innocent families of those who have departed. We are appealing to everyone that service must prevail.”

Dlamini says the strike is only causing unnecessary pain for grieving families.

Nehawu says it is optimistic that the strike will be called off before the end of June.

WATCH: Tears Trauma: Forensic strike leaves over 200 incomplete autopsies

UNQUALIFIED STAFF CONDUCT POSTMORTEMS

As talks continue to end the mortuary strike, the Democratic Alliance (DA) says it’s emerged that unqualified staff, including cleaners, have been assisting with postmortems.

The party says the Health Department admitted during a portfolio committee briefing on Tuesday that unqualified employees have been carrying out the task.

DA MP Semakaleng Kopane says the portfolio committee has heard how the department in some provinces failed to maintain the mortuary structure inherited from the SAPS, resulting in the lack of order.

“Immediately when the service was transferred over to the Department of Health in Gauteng according to the DG, the danger allowance was something that was destroyed and the dissection allowance was also no longer there.”

Kopane says the department has revealed that random unqualified staff has been conducting postmortems.

“Going forward, they end up doing the real job of the pathologists, sometimes it happens not under the supervision of and that’s where the problem lies.”

The department’s Joe Maila has declined to comment on the issue until he consults with the director general.

Article source: http://ewn.co.za/2017/06/21/embrace-ubuntu-and-return-to-work-striking-mortuary-employees-requested

Bitcoin is rising in value but losing momentum with users

For digital-marketing agency Cooperatize.com, taking bitcoin for payment was easy enough. All co-founder Roger Wu had to do was obtain a digital wallet. To promote the move in 2014, he even penned a blog post for Forbes explaining the decision.

The number of bitcoin transactions the New York-based firm has made since? Zero.

“The biggest thing is, are people willing to pay in bitcoin?” Wu said. “The reality is that most of our customers are other businesses, and other businesses don’t use bitcoin.”

Even as the euphoria over bitcoin reached a fever pitch last week as the stock price surged to almost $3,000, slow transaction times and inertia are helping to prevent it from achieving widespread usage. Adoption has slowed, according to Morgan Stanley, after a slew of companies from Microsoft to Expedia initially trumpeted its use, and hurdles remain when it comes to longer-term viability.

“We see few reasons for consumers to use bitcoin over a credit/debit card given that paying online with bitcoin represents a marginally more inconvenient way to pay,” Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a 33-page report released June 13. Processing costs for bitcoin and other digital currencies are likely to grow, they said.

Time and Dell said they’ve stopped accepting the cryptocurrency, with the computer maker citing low usage. When website content management system WordPress stopped taking bitcoin in 2015, founder Matt Mullenweg said usage was “vanishingly small,” adding that it was initially incorporated for philosophical reasons, not commercial ones.

Bitcoin allows people to make transactions, buy goods and services and exchange money across borders without involving banks or third parties.

My Ubuntu for mobile devices post mortem analysis

Icon

Now that Ubuntu phones and tablets are gone, I would like to offer my thoughts on why I personally think the project failed and what one may learn from it.

To recapitulate my involvement in the project: I had been using Ubuntu Touch on a Nexus 7 on an on-and-off-basis between its announcement in 2013 and December 2014, started working on Click apps in December 2014, started writing the 15-part “Hacking Ubuntu Touch” blog post series about system internals in January 2015, became an Ubuntu Phone Insider, got a Meizu MX4 from Canonical, organized and sponsored the UbuContest app development contest, worked on bug reports and apps until about April 2016, and then sold off/converted all my remaining devices in mid-2016. So I think I can offer some thoughts about the project, its challenges and where we could have done better.

Excellent and detailed explanation of why Ubuntu Phone failed.

Article source: http://www.osnews.com/story/29880/My_Ubuntu_for_mobile_devices_post_mortem_analysis

This high school dropout who invested in bitcoin at $12 is now a millionaire at 18

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This high-school dropout who invested in bitcoin at $12 is now a millionaire at 18


Erik Finman made a bet with his parents that if he turned 18 and was a millionaire, they wouldn’t force him to go to college. Thanks to his savvy investments in bitcoin and the current all-time high valuation, he won’t have to get his degree.

“I can proudly say I made it, and I’m not going to college,” Finman said.

He currently owns 403 bitcoins, which at the current $2,700 a coin puts his bitcoin value at $1.09 million. He also has smaller investments in other cryptocurrencies, including litecoin and ethereum.

Bitcoin is very volatile, and the value could decline rapidly. A technical analyst told CNBC he believes bitcoin will only go up to $2,800 before the value recedes, while others think it may reach $100,000 in a decade.

Finman thinks its best days are still ahead. “Personally I think bitcoin is going to be worth a couple hundred thousand to a million dollars a coin,” he said.

Bitcoin and the blockchain technology it is built on allow people to cut out the middleman, Finman explained. For example, an open source blockchain ride-share platform would allow users to power the service on their phones using peer-to-peer technology without a central hub. It would allow the drivers to get more money by cutting overhead costs, he added. It could also create the next evolution of the internet, one which wouldn’t be reliant on servers.

The first time, he turned $1,000 into $100,000

Finman began investing in bitcoin in May 2011 at the age of 12, thanks to a $1,000 gift from his grandmother and a tip from his brother Scott.

Though he’s close with his family — which he calls the “Elon Musk version of the Kardashians” — growing up in “small town” Idaho outside of Coeur d’Alene wasn’t easy. Finman was especially frustrated with his high school teachers, and begged his parents to let him drop out at 15.

“(High school) was pretty low quality,” he said. “I had these teachers that were all kind of negative. One teacher told me to drop out and work at McDonald’s because that was all I would amount to for the rest of my life. I guess I did the dropout part.”

Surprisingly, his parents — who met pursuing their Ph.D.s at Stanford — agreed. Finman sold his first bitcoin investments at the end of 2013, when they were valued at $1,200 a piece.

With the $100,000 Finman launched an online education company called Botangle in early 2014 that would allow frustrated students like him to find teachers over video chat. He also used the funds to move to Silicon Valley, did some fun things like meet Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and traveled.

“I really liked Colombia,” he said. “It was fun, but a little sketchy. Some interesting stuff happened. I was held up at gunpoint there, which is pretty scary, but I have this emergency button I programmed in Android that puts you on speaker but turns off audio automatically and dials [a local emergency number].”

“Maybe I’ll turn that into an app,” he added. “It’s handy.”

It was hard getting people to take a 15-year-old tech entrepreneur seriously, Finman admitted. He recalled being called in to interview with a “really, really high-up” unnamed Uber executive, who instead of listening to his Botangle pitch discouraged him and told him he would never win the bet with his parents.

Eventually he found a buyer for Botangle’s technology in January 2015. The investor offered either $100,000 or 300 bitcoin, which had dropped in value at that time to a little more than $200 a coin. He took the lower cash value bitcoin deal because he believed it was “the next big thing.”

“My parents asked ‘Why don’t you take the more cash?”‘ Finman explained. “But I thought of it more of an investment.”

Since then, Finman has been managing his family and his own bitcoin investments. He’s also kept busy on other projects, including working with NASA to launch a rocket through the ELaNa project. One thing he won’t do is go back to school.

“I never got my GED, and I don’t see the value in it,” Finman said. “The purpose of that would be to get another education level and get a job. I had to learn through running a business. Instead of writing essays for English class, I had to write emails to important people.”

Although the rest of his family has degrees — his brother Scott went to Johns Hopkins at 16 and now has an enterprise software company, while his other brother Ross went to Carnegie Melon at 16 for robotics and is now pursuing his Ph.D. at MIT — he’s happy learning about the real world from experience.

“The way the education system is structured now, I wouldn’t recommend it,” Finman said. “It doesn’t work for anyone. I would recommend the internet, which is all free. You can learn a million times more off YouTube and Wikipedia.”



Bitcoins sit on top of a collection of U.S. one dollar bills in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016.


Michelle Castillo CNBC

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Article source: https://www.telecompaper.com/news/nearly-1000-trademark-owners-register-for-africa-names--1200596